Mental health benefits have become indispensable tools for many organizations in response to today’s dynamic and fast-moving workplaces. Mental health benefits–unheard of in many industries a mere decade ago–have now become a key facet of employer branding for companies who want to foster a supportive culture in which their people can thrive and excel.

For business leaders and recruiting experts who must navigate this ever-evolving landscape of employee well-being, it will be important to focus on strategies that are cost-effective and that resonate with the actual needs of your workforce. This can be a delicate balancing act. You want to stay ahead of the proverbial curve, yet you don’t want to waste resources on new, unproven ideas.

In an effort to help you make the most of these critical choices, here are four key concepts we believe will shape and define workplace mental health benefits in 2024:

  1. Prioritize Mental Health in Traditional Benefits Packages

    One simple and direct way to boost your employees’ mental health is to simply make sure that the medical insurance you’re offering them includes ample coverage for a range of mental, psychological, and behavioral health services: counseling, therapy, stress management programs, smoking cessation, and addiction resources, etc.

    In 2024, mental health benefits should no longer be an afterthought or a special add-on perk that your employees can (and will) opt out of. Think of mental health as a specialized yet no-less critical component of a truly comprehensive health benefits package, no different from dental or vision care.

    As more companies offer these benefits, employees and their families will increasingly appreciate (and expect) them, so this is one area where staying ahead of the curve and positioning your organization as a mental health benefits leader in your industry may be beneficial.

  2. Maximize Healthcare Savings and Overall Effectiveness of Benefits Spending

    With healthcare costs on the rise, employers are seeking innovative ways to maximize the cost-effectiveness of their healthcare benefits spending. For the most successful organizations, data-driven approaches are used to optimize healthcare spending, focusing on clinical outcomes and tangible results to define a good return on investment. Mental health benefits are increasingly seen as having a significant role to play in these equations.

    How does this work? Essentially, by using mental health as a form of preventative medicine. By addressing employee mental health needs proactively and efficiently, organizations can actually mitigate long-term healthcare costs. Consider a worker who is masking severe clinical depression during the workday. With their mental health condition left untreated, they may fail to care for themselves adequately, leading to any number of other serious (and significantly more expensive) health issues.

    Addressing employee mental health results in increased stability for your healthcare spending and employee well-being alike.

  3. Address Social Determinants of Health

    For thought leaders in this area of data-driven health solutions, one guiding principle seems to be addressing key underlying factors at the intersection of social and health issues, called social determinants of health (SDOH). Forward-thinking organizations can do the same when putting together benefits packages.

    SDOH largely refers to basic human needs, such as food, access to housing, and financial stability, which significantly impact an employee’s mental well-being and productivity–not to mention their physical health. For example, even a superstar employee isn’t going to perform well if they’ve spent the last month hopping from couch to couch, unable to find a new apartment within their budget.

    Improving benefits through the lens of SDOH doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply increasing compensation is the simplest and most direct way to improve your workers’ SDOH factors in many cases. However, setting aside some of your budget to go towards robust mental health benefits can also be a very cost-effective way to address SDOH in a more comprehensive way.

  4. Cultivate a Culture of Mental Health Awareness and Support

    Benefit offerings can be used as one key part of a larger paradigm shift when it comes to fostering a comprehensive, organization-wide culture of mental health awareness and support. This starts on an individual level, normalizing conversations about mental well-being and being mindful of your coworkers’ mental health, as well as your own.

    As a bridge between traditional healthcare benefits and these informal, personal changes, you can implement a layer of employee assistance programs, wellness initiatives, and training sessions focused on boosting your team’s overall well-being at work. There are a lot of great, cost-effective programs in this area, so you can find something that fits your team and your industry with a bit of online research.

    If you worry that you don’t have the resources for these types of initiatives, they don’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes a simple gesture like additional PTO days that can be used on short notice can do a lot to boost both your employees’ well-being and your brand as an employer.

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